Bengal Village is co-owned by three partners, two of whom are brothers. One owner, who now lives in Redbridge, arrived in Britain in 1973.
He and his family settled in Bow, where there were very few Bengali families at the time. After leaving school, he found work in the East End’s garment industry.
Both his father and grandfather lived and worked in Britain before him. His grandfather, a merchant seaman, had spent a few years living in Whitechapel between seafaring contracts. His father arrived in Britain at the age of 30 and worked in factories in Poplar. Another owner of Bengal Village arrived in Britain from Bangladesh in 1979.
Prior to opening Bengal Village at 75 Brick Lane in 1999, the co-owners ran Sangeeta, a music shop, on the same site. Before that, the unit had housed a minicab office. Sangeeta sold South Asian cassette tapes, videos, books, magazines and musical instruments like tablas. When business in Sangeeta began to slow down in the late-1990s, the owners decided to convert the shop into a restaurant. They sought planning permission to change the use of the site from retail to restaurant and opened Bengal Village.
Bengal Village is open every day of the year, except Christmas Day. Most of Bengal Village’s customers are walk-in and are estimated to fall in the 25 – 45 age range. The majority are regulars but some are foreign tourists. The restaurant’s most popular dishes are chicken tikka masala and chicken or lamb jalfrezi. Bengal Village has a website and an Instagram account.